I have never liked mice. I think they're cute in the pet store or if I see them outside...but not if I'm close enough for them to touch me. In the house, they're absolutely insufferable and I scream whenever I see one. Really. I am aware of the fact that a mouse is a small fraction of my own size and that I am in no danger when one is around, but for some reason the mere sight of a beady-eyed fur ball makes me go into fits of shrieking...
My first memorable encounter with a mouse was when I was 3 or 4 years old. I was out to dinner with my grandma, my Mom and my Mom's Step-dad. We had a cat at home then named Tiger who liked to hide the mice she killed in our shoes (I think you can tell what is coming up)...
It was snowy outside and I was wearing boots. Half way through dinner I leaned over to my mother and said quietly, "There's something furry in my boot."
Mom ignored me. She told me later that it was because she didn't want to discuss the "something furry" at the dinner table -- especially in a restaurant.
I kept poking her on the arm. "Mom, Mom...there's something furry in my boot." My voice got louder. Still no response.
This time Mom told me to "Shhh".
I've never "Shhhed" well and I am someone who is very difficult to ignore.
I decided to take the problem into my own hands. I did not want a furry friend in my footwear, so I took off my boot and dumped its fluffy contents into my mother's purse. When Mom saw what I had done she was mortified. "SEE?" I said, pointing. "There was something furry in my boot!"
That is something that makes an impression on a little kid...
When I was that age, my family and I lived in a farmhouse in rural Iowa and there were tons of mice in the house -- despite the fact that we had 9 cats at one point. At night you could hear them running on the kitchen floor...it sounded like a coffee maker bubbling. You could hear the coffee maker going off all through the night...
When I got a little older, we moved into a small town, but it was across from a grain elevator, so there were still plenty of mice around...
For years we had a Siamese Cat who was a super-hunter, so I saw very few mice, but then Sidney passed on (RIP) and the mice began to descend upon the house...
One night, while I was a Freshman in College and still living at home, I was working late in my bedroom when I encountered one of the furry intruders. My computer desk was right next to the doorway. It was 2 o'clock in the morning and I was half-asleep, but typing anyway. Then I saw something in the corner of my eye...it was a fat mouse the size of a guinea pig...I screamed at the top of my lungs...The poor little rodent jumped back a few inches before retreating down the hall...
The funny thing was that my father slept through the scream. Part of what's funny about that now is my father is the single lightest sleeper in the entire world. If I'm visiting my parents' house while my dad is asleep and breathe too loudly the man wakes up...That night I screamed like a prom queen in a horror movie and the man didn't budge...I did wake up my mom though...she came out of her room groggily muttering, "Laura? Are you okay?"
Somehow the story of seeing a big bad ugly mouse doesn't seem very funny to someone who was jolted out of a sound sleep...
It was around that time when we got a new addition to our family: Bowzer the Cat. Bowzer was my cat. My best buddy. My friend... My protector from the big bad mice... My parents hated him, but that's a story for another blog...
When Bowzer was young, he was a super-mouse killer. One morning I woke up to the sound of Bowzer racing around my bedroom in a mad frenzy. I didn't open my eyes because I desperately wanted to sleep in. A few minutes later, everything got quiet. I opened my eyes. In the middle of my bedroom rug, I saw two little gray lumps...I couldn't make out what they were 'cause I wasn't wearing my glasses.
When I slipped on my spectacles, I saw two mouse corpses in the middle of my floor.
No shock to anyone, I screamed...
Mom yelled up the stairs, "What's going on?"
"Bowzer put two dead mice near my bed."
"That means he loves you," she told me.
I looked that up. Its true. It is a sign of affection when your pet gives you something its killed because technically it is giving up food for you...oddly enough I didn't "feel the love" at that moment.
"Clean um up and come down to breakfast," she added.
"No!" I replied. "I'm not getting out of bed with the rodents there and I'm DEFINITELY not picking them up."
"Wimp!" Mom said.
"Fine, you do it..."
"No!" Mom retorted. "John!" Mom called to my dad who was watching TV. "Go up and help your daughter!"
"With what?" He asked.
"Bowzer killed two mice and put them in the middle of her bedroom and she won't get up until they're moved."
"Laura, pick um up!" He said.
"No!" I said. "That's gross!"
"That's gross," Dad repeated, mimicking my voice. "Wimp!"
"Whatever, Dad! Are you going to force your beloved, cute, adorable daughter to handle rodent corpses?"
"Since when are YOU cute and adorable?"
"You said I was yesterday, Dad!"
"That was before you made me stop watching the History Channel to dispose of your cat's leavings...He's your cat you know!"
"Yeah," I agreed diplomatically..."But you're the man of the house and you're supposed to protect your family."
"You're supposed to protect your family," Dad repeated in a high voice again. "Fine, I'll do it...I'll get rid of the mouse bodies...The things I do for you...You'd think I loved you or something..."
"I love you too, Dad," I said. "Please get rid of the mice???"
"Oh, for Pete's sake! I'm coming, I'm coming," he muttered.
Dad came up the stairs with a bunch of paper towels and bent down to pick up the furry corpses. "If he leaves any more of them, young lady, they're yours..." He said, glaring at me over the rims of his glasses...
"And deprive you the joy of helping your daughter? Never!"
Dad muttered something under his breath again and walked out of the room and started down the stairs...then Dad let out a yelp and his pace quickened into a run before I heard the back door open and close with a slam.
"What happened?" I called down the stairs.
"One of the mice was still alive," he said. "It started wriggling around in my hands so I threw it outside..."
(I swear to you this next part is true) A few years later, Bowzer the cat gained a few pounds -- he ended up weighing 35 pounds...he was HUGE! By then I had moved away to Grad School, but I was home on a Christmas visit. Mom and I were watching TV one evening, when Bowzer strode into the living room with a tiny little mouse walking next to him...Mom and I stared in disbelief.
It got even more unbelievable when the two of them sat down in front of the fireplace ...next to each other. I was too shocked to scream...this did not look real.
Mom and I could not believe our eyes. We looked at each other and then looked down at the happy pair who were apparently enjoying the warmth of the hearth.
"Bowzer," I whispered to my kitty. "Bowie...MOUSE! There is a mouse next to you. Chase it...Kill it!"
Bowzer looked up at me and purred in response...I know in Heaven the Lion will lay down with the lamb, but I didn't want that to start on this earth with my pet cat and a rodent...
Mom stared at the scene for a few long seconds and said, "Laura, maybe the mouse is dead. I'll get the broom and dust pan."
Mom retrieved the items from the kitchen and approached the mouse and started to sweep the furry beast into the pan, but the moment she touched it with the broom's bristles, the mouse jumped up and scurried across the floor, finding refuge under the corner cupboard...Bowzer just stared up at us, blankly...
Its been years since then, and I'm happy to report that my parents no longer have mice. They no longer use cats as mouse-killers though...Now they call the exterminator.